“A friend knows an actress whose alarm code—2828—reminds her of the age she must never surpass. (The repetition adds a touch of hysteria, which I like.),“ writes Carina Chocano in an essay in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It’s a sharp reminder of how early ageism kicks in for women, especially in LA, where Chocano lives.
Two news stories last week, one about a 42-year-old nursing student running for homecoming queen and another about a 91 year old mayor swindling River Falls, Alabama, out of $201,000, got me thinking about the journalistic convention of including ages in stories.
I'm still figuring out the structure of the book, but I know what I want its message to be. Here's a draft of the new Introduction:
The demographic good fortune of the baby boom generation has its dark side. Privileged and powerful, Americans came of age in an era of youth movements (never trust anyone over 30!) and we’ve worshipped at the shrine ever since.
Betty Soskin and I have been in touch, and she pointed me to this video about her life and work as an outreach specialist and interpreter at Rosie the Riveter WWII/ Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, CA. Her long history in the area makes her an invaluable asset, not least because, as she puts it, “I’m at an age where I know how all the stories turned out.”
That’s how you spell “aging” in the UK, and that’s Guardian columnist Zoe Williams’s take on this week’s US Census Bureau report on the unprecedented aging of the world population. Calling out an alarmist press for presenting this demographic shift as either a crisis or a burden, she exposes the standard fallacies, pointing out that people will continue to work well past traditional retirement ages and be healthy enough to do so.
When I posted about getting accepted by the 2008 Age Boom Academy, I was hoping to find out why it’s so hard to galvanize a national conversation around longevity-related issues. I spent last week at the Academy learning the answer, and it isn’t pretty.